FRAMINGHAM – Senate President Karen E. Spilka nominated Framingham resident Nicole Doak to receive a 2021 Commonwealth Heroine Award.
The 18th annual awards ceremony was held virtually yesterday, June 23, due to the pandemic.
The Commonwealth Heroines of 2021 are truly the ones who have kept the community together when we needed it the most. They may not always make the news, but they most assuredly make a difference. You have been selected because you use your time, talent, spirit, and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others, stated the program.
And that description easily describes Doak.
When Framingham Public Schools closed for what people assumed would be “just a few days” in March 2020, Doak immediately thought of families who relied on the schools’ free breakfasts and lunches, said the profile on her in the awards program/
Poking around Facebook, she saw “an overwhelming amount of worry, and so many people wanting to help.”
She thought, “We need a system.” So she built one: the Framingham Coronovirus Community Outreach group, which had a core team within weeks and more than 100 volunteers shopping, packing, and delivering food to Framingham families.
For the next year, Doak led this mutual-aid group providing information on a host of issues—domestic violence, COVID testing, vaccines, food security– and connecting people to emotional support services including AA Zoom support and free clinicians.
While the need and the 24/7 pace has kept up and was not abating, Doak said the Community Outreach Group was a stopgap, changing and adapting but not intended for the long-term. That said, the group has built bridges that will have lasting impact.
“These are neighbor issues, not political issues,” said Doak “and the people pitching in have learned that volunteering changes you as well as the people you’re helping.”